Judith Serebnick


President's Award for Teaching (1991)
Indiana University Bloomington
School of Library and Information Science


Judith Serebnick, professor emerita of the Indiana University School of Library and Information Science, died November 30, 2009, in Bloomington. She contributed a wealth of service to and accomplishments for the school that have had a lasting impact on its program, faculty, and alumni.

Dr. Serebnick received her Ph.D. degree in library and information science from Rutgers University in 1978. Her previous education included a B.S. degree in English literature from City College of New York and an M.A. in English literature and theater from Pennsylvania State University. She joined the Indiana University Graduate Library School (now School of Library and Information Science) faculty in 1977, bringing substantial professional experience in libraries and publishing, including reference information work at the Brooklyn Public Library and the University of California at Los Angeles, experience at Northwestern University and Princeton University, and service as book editor and assistant editor with the Library Journal.

Dr. Serebnick was the architect who redesigned the School's collection development course. Under her influence it became more than the technical "acquisitions" course that had been the standard in education for librarianship since the late nineteenth century. She also pioneered the popular intellectual freedom seminar, which greatly extended the treatment of censorship prevalent in library schools in the 1960s and early 1970s. In her hands the seminar became a strong, research-oriented examination of the literature on censorship in libraries and beyond.

She was a productive researcher, but Dr. Serebnick felt that her primary task was teaching well. Her former students, in both the Master of Library Science and doctoral programs, remember with pleasure her conscientious and insightful teaching and her infectious enthusiasm. She was a thorough adviser to master's students and especially to doctoral students on whose committees she served. In 1991 Dr. Serebnick was awarded a prestigious Indiana University President's Award for distinguished teaching. She retired from Indiana University in 1994.

Dr. Serebnick's research interests related to her teaching: intellectual freedom, information policy in public libraries, collection development in libraries, and ethics in scholarly journal editing. Her concern with the effects of censorship on access to information was demonstrated in her dissertation on the "Relationship between Book Reviews and the Inclusion of Potentially Controversial Books in Public Libraries." She also published on the theory and practice of library collection building and ethical practices in journal publishing. She received two research grants from the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC); in 1994 she was honored by the American Library Association with its Jesse H. Shera Award for Research in Library and Information Science.

Dr. Serebnick's service to the profession was indefatigable; it included extensive activity in the American Library Association and in the Association for Library and Information Science Education. Through all of this activity Dr. Serebnick gave liberally of herself, and as a result of her concern for people she is remembered fondly by all with whom she worked.